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A PC-less 12"-15" digital picture frame? Anyone? Answered

After reading DOZENS of DIY's explaining how to use an old laptop as a digital picture frame, I'm hoping someone here can provide a solution.

I have an old 14" LCD computer monitor that I would just LOVE to turn into a low-cost digital picture frame. But I DON'T have a spare PC, nor do I want to bother with "booting into Windows/Linux/etc" just to use it. If that were the case, I'd just build a PC out of spare parts for $20. I'm looking for an easier (and less bulky) solution.

I've seen DIY projects that turn small handheld media players into tiny digital picture frames, but the screen is typically no bigger than 1.5-to-3.5 inches. I can buy a *working* 3.5" DPF for the same price... not that I'd want one... with far less hassle. I'm looking to use the screen I've already got (spare it from ending up in a landfill), not buy something I don't want nor need.

Maybe there's a way to connect one of these tiny media players to a bigger screen? Or maybe there's another way to display photos using something other than a PC that I'm unaware of?

With all the old LCD monitors going into the trash, it seems a simple "box" that can plug into any old monitor to display photos, might be a very desirable device.

Anyone?

PS: I'm a "computer tech" of nearly three decades, so I already know the "complexity" of what I'm asking. Thanks.

13 Replies

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Goodhart (author)2008-11-17

Have you looked into the possibilities with Arduino ?

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Last_Liberal (author)Goodhart2008-11-17

Interesting. First I've heard of it. But it does not appear to have any sort of video interface, which would be the most critial component here. :)

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Goodhart (author)Last_Liberal2008-11-18

Yes, you would need to add a bit of hardward to the Arduino, here are a few ideas... or it is possible to interface with a C64 (Commodore 64) (or other small computers) or you can check out another person's question and answers he got at this link here, which is similar to your question...

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Last_Liberal (author)Goodhart2008-11-18

Definitely on the right track, but this seems to expect a rather lorez (320x240) screen for output, and I'm looking to drive a large LCD. It seems the Arduino would require another "computer" of sorts just to support the display (then the Arduino would control the computer). At that point, we're on the wrong track. :( Thanks for the ideas though. Keep 'em coming.

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Goodhart (author)Last_Liberal2008-11-18

Well, there are some really small computers too, that may be useful. Instead of the C64, do you think a TI/99 would work (Texas Instrument)?

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Last_Liberal (author)Goodhart2008-11-18

Just read about the "SanDisk Digital Photo Viewer" in another Instructable. This is VERY close to what I'm looking for. Now, if I only I can figure out a way to convert the RF output to (at least) VGA.

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Goodhart (author)Last_Liberal2008-11-18
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Last_Liberal (author)Goodhart2008-11-19

The "VGA" referred to in that story stands for "variable gain amplifier" and not "video graphics adapter". :( From what I've read, the (discontinued and now rare) SanDisk player also supports/supported S-video output. I noticed my own (c.2001) LCD monitor has an S-video jack on it, so if I were to come across an old LCD with S-video input on it, that would solve (almost) everything. Sadly, there's no way to convert S-video to VGA (or DVI). Can't understand why SanDisk discontinued the device.

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NachoMahma (author)Last_Liberal2008-11-19

> ... no way to convert S-video to VGA ...
. It's not exactly cheap, bit it is possible.

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Goodhart (author)Last_Liberal2008-11-19

Well, if you can't find one new, there is always eBay :-)

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killerjackalope (author)2008-11-17

Well if you happened to find a media player with TV out you could bodge together a very small system that'd be pretty low on power consumption, alternatively arduino or otherwise may prove worthwhile, all you need in reality is two photos worth of RAM, a memory device for holding them and a processing unit for displaying and running the slideshow smoothly, of course a plethora of options could be available, hell a junked mobile phone could be a reasonable start, anything that has a display out cord and a broken screen (saves money on buying or aqcuiring and it's not an issue...) Plus a mobile comes with a memory and the capacity to run a slideshow...

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user

The "cell phone" option is interesting, but I haven't found one with separate video output like that (VGA or DVI). I did consider a "mini-ITX" motherboard, but as I originally noted, I'm looking to avoid forcing the user to boot an OS just to use it. I considered possibly writing my own picture display software to run on the mini-ITX, but using Windows or Linux is overkill, and DOS is not an option because I could never write a DOS app that can access a card reader and display photos. If anyone knows of a hand-held device of any type with a video out option, let me know.

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Most of the phones don't have a direct output port but have a cable that makes them automatically defer to the big screen... Some kind of little media player would be good too... maybe a barebones system with some simple software that only does one thing - finds J-pegs and puts them on the screen...

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